Remembering Craig Dempster
14.07.1977 – 02.11.1995
I really don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but today is the 23rd anniversary of the worst day of my life – the day my son Craig, age 18, died in a car accident. It was a beautiful, sunny Thursday at 5pm when the accident occurred. Before this day, I had spent many a sleepless night, worrying about my teenagers out on the roads, but never really expected that they were in danger at that time of day, or on such a magical, spring day.
Very soon, everything seemed to spiral out of control around me, as phone calls were made to family and friends. My daughter, who was only 15, was in Japan for a year, on Rotary Youth Exchange, and just that day had moved to a new host family. We didn’t have her new contact details yet and as this was in the days before mobile phones, efforts to track her down were almost impossible. Eventually at about midnight, we found her. Fortunately for her, she was with a very supportive family, who were able to support her, until she was able to get a flight home. It was Melbourne Cup weekend, so flights to Melbourne were very difficult to get. She was home for just one week to attend the funeral. We felt it was important for her and for her memory of her brother, that she returned for her final two months.
Unfortunately, in those days, Road Trauma Support Services Victoria didn’t exist. Or if they did, we weren’t aware and weren’t put in contact with them. When I look back on that time, I really could have done with their support, as I had very little family support. In actual fact, I found it necessary to be supportive of those around me, which left me floundering a bit. This was the type of thing that happened to other people and their families. I never expected ever to have to deal with losing a child in this way. Looking back at that time, I realise that I didn’t know how to cope.
Today, things are thankfully different. Families are now immediately put in touch with the Road Trauma Support Services, which I’m sure does help with the grieving and recovery processes.
Road Trauma Support Service
The following statement from the website of the Road Trauma Support Service, best describes their mission.
Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) is a not-for-profit organisation contributing to the safety and wellbeing of road users. We provide counselling and support to people affected by road trauma and address the attitudes and behaviours of road users through education.
In working to deliver our purpose, we provide free, professional face-to-face and telephone counselling services across Victoria to people who have been affected directly or indirectly by a road incident including; bereaved family members, witnesses, drivers, first-on-scene, emergency service personnel, families and friends.
Through active engagement of people who have personal experience in the effects of crashes on theirs and others lives, we are able to offer a number of support options including peer support activity groups.
In addition, we deliver a range of education programs addressing the behaviours and attitudes of drivers in order to reduce the incidence of crashes, injuries and fatalities and the associated trauma and grief.
Our education programs are delivered by trained facilitators in conjunction with emergency service personnel and volunteers who talk about their personal experience. The programs are aimed at community and youth groups, the business community as well as offenders through the Magistrates’ and Children’s Court of Victoria. It is this mix of programs and the close collaboration and involvement of professional staff working with volunteers and road safety sector partners that makes RTSSV unique in Victoria.
Time For Remembering 2018
The 18th annual Time For Remembering Ceremony will be held on Sunday November 18, at Queens Hall, Parliament House Melbourne. This event gives the opportunity to commemorate loved ones who lost their lives due to car accidents and road trauma. Attendees also have the opportunity to pay tribute to those agencies and individuals who work tirelessly to reduce the road toll and the associated trauma and grief. This day is also the World Day of Remembrance For Road Trauma Victims.
Today, as I do every year on this day, I am remembering Craig’s friend, Fiona Ellis who also lost her life in the accident. After the accident, Fiona’s parents were my support network. Surviving this experience would have been much worse without their support.
I found this quote below on a website that my friend Sue, a fellow grieving mother, told me about – Refuge in Grief : grief support that doesn’t suck.
Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried